Six essential exercises to avoid joint pain and improve strength for hiking

Love to hike, but pain in the joints and muscles holding you back? Here's how to mobilise your joints like a pro

Man on early morning hike up mountainside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There is nothing worse when you can't go for a pre-planned hike because of an injury. You've been planning this for months; the weather is perfect; you have all your gear ready, and BOOM! Your knees start hurting. If you're a clever hiker, you'll make sure to ready your body for your outdoor adventures, and this preparation starts with doing these six essential exercises for hikers.

The below workout uses nothing but your body's weight to provide resistance and, therefore, is technically a bodyweight workout. But instead of packing on unnecessary bulk in the form of bulging muscles, you'll be working on improving strength and mobility, both of which can come in handy when tackling uneven terrain at high (or moderate) altitudes. These movements can also improve your general fitness and mobility as a hiker. 

This 6-move session isn't your classic home workout; no sets or reps are involved. Feel free to mix things up and perform exercises for as long as you wish/feel comfortable. If you need some guidance, we'd recommend following a Tabata-style workout pattern: 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off, which means you'll perform one exercise for 40 seconds, followed by a 20-second rest. Have a minute-long rest between sets, and complete 2-3 sets in total (or as many times as you wish). The exercises featured in this workout are:

  • Clock squats
  • P step-downs/Poliquin squats
  • Lateral step ups
  • Calf raises
  • Lunge with front lever
  • Toe lift and switch

Another thing that can help you power through even the most challenging hikes is wearing proper gear. "Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær,", as the Norwegians like to say (translates to "There is no bad weather, only bad clothes"), and we can't agree more. If you need new hiking gear, check out T3's roundups of the best hiking boots, the best walking shoes for women and the best walking shoes for men. Finally, especially since spring is just around the corner, check out the best waterproof jackets to stay dry and insulated on your hikes, even when the weather turns bad.

[Find out more about the exercises featured in this workout here]

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.